I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of people’s 12-month Experiments to Do X. It appeals to my sense of order and my voyeurism.
Let’s get this out of the way: Wyma is not my favorite. Usually what appeals to me about these sorts of experiment is the voice of the experimenter, and then the activity itself. I like A J Jacobs’ chatty brain, and then ALSO trying to read the encyclopedia or become the healthiest person alive sounds like something I’d do.
[Edited to add: review completely jumps the shark here for a second and runs into Personal Peeve Territory, which is wild and dangerous and full of weevils.] But Wyma is One Of Those Ladies. You know the kind. Those ‘Oh, I’m that annoying creative type that can never be regulated WHERE IS MY MIND’ etc. Like having a scattered brain is cute. And this whole treating-vices-as-though-they-were-virtues is very Victorian, but not in the fun, literary mad-relatives way. More in the we should abolish this now way. I mean, it’s no longer sexy for women to be swoony and air-headed, but OH MY HEAVENS I am so bad at organization, or being on time, or not buying shoes when I can’t afford shoes. These aren’t adorable quirks, these are character flaws, and I’m not saying I’m always organized and tidy (I’m not), or that I drown in guilt about my lack of organization or tidiness (I don’t), I just…I recognize that it’s not charming to be these things, and I don’t treat them like, I don’t know, a penchant for limes or the ability to play the ukelele. Develop actual hobbies and traits, people. Not being able to stay on top of laundry doesn’t count.
So! One day KWW wakes up and is like, Holy shit, I have been doing for all my children and now they are all like, Get me a glass of water and do my laundry and you like making snacks so make me a snack, I am a helpless beast. So month by month, she increases their responsibilities around the house, starting with things like making their beds and moving on to Proper Cleaning of Bathrooms and Planning-Slash-Making of Meals and Running of Errands and her kids are like Ugh being civilized human being is so harrrrrrd and she is like
and eventually they start doing those things. Which, ok, the message of the book is great. Kids are capable of taking on way more responsibility than we give them, and if you do everything yourself, not only are you depriving your kids of a learning opportunity, but you are subtly communicating to them that they CAN’T do it. Plus, giving them real and useful work to do helps them feel accomplished and necessary, not like useless wastes of space.
And there are a number of good take-aways, like how you should make your kids get jobs out of the house because there’s something very different about taking orders from and being accountable to Not Your Mom, so EVEN IF they work at a kids’ camp and you have to give them a ‘wage’ from your own pocket (because KWW is clearly kind of moneyed) it is worth the lesson in responsibility.
So if you can read around the Ha ha oh ME, how you do run on, and the ‘people sometimes tell me’ (which form of self-flattery is the LOLiest because what people), and how rullllll religious it gets at about the halfway mark, and this one particularly sanctimonious episode where she and her kids help teach a crusty (IN BOTH SENSES OF THE WORD [too gross?]) old lady how to operate the laundromat machines, while making it super clear that this woman is a Boozer and Probably Homeless because that’s what makes their help Worthwhile and Sacrificing, then…I forget my point. This is a book with words in it, anyway.